NBC is rethinking its Thursday block. Plugging a Blacklist-themed run of Dateline at 8 p.m., eight-part miniseries The Slap moves into the 10 p.m. hour — pushing Allegiance off of the schedule, canceling the low-rated freshman.
The new lineup goes into effect next Thursday, March 12. It comes as little surprise considering how poor Allegiance has fared at 10, even with the Blacklist lead-in. And though The Slap has not done any better — in fact, it’s done worse on occasions — it has been a much bigger priority for the network, and the new lead-in could stand to goose the final half of its run, if only a little.
Adapted from a book and Australian show of the same name, The Slap was one of NBC’s more high-profile efforts this season. Part of NBC Entertainment chairman’s Bob Greenblatt‘s ongoing push into event programming, it lured an enviable cast — including Peter Sarsgaard, Uma Thurman and Thandie Newton — but it floundered in the ratings from the start. The first episode averaged 5.1 million viewers and just a 1.1 rating among adults 18-49, per live-plus-same-day returns. It’s dropped in its subsequent airings, pulling a scant 3.9 million viewers in its latest episode.
And even though the show was languishing in the ratings — it faced stiff competition from The Big Bang Theory, Grey’s Anatomy and American Idol in its time slot — it would have been a surprise if NBC yanked it halfway into the brief run. Stakes for Allegiance were not so high. Bowing to a 1.1 rating in the key demo and 5 million viewers, the espionage drama did not get as big of a marketing push as — or boast the star power of — The Slap.
The Blacklist could also use a little help at 9 p.m. Since moving from its Monday roost, NBC’s top scripted series has been pulling series lows in same-day showings. Still, it’s improved the hour’s ratings by 175 percent — averaging a 3.3 rating in the key demo and 13.3 million viewers once DVR was taken into account.
It’s been a rough season for NBC’s freshman flock. Allegiance is just the latest of several modest or low-rated entries. The network still has a few cards to show, however. April brings drama Odyssey and, more importantly, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey‘s ambitious follow-up to The Bible: A.D.